My Mummy's Dead
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Posted: Thursday, May 10, 2012
by Jack H. Schick
My mummy’s dead.
I can’t get it through my head,
Though it’s been so many years.
My mummy’s dead.
It's hard to explain
So much pain
I could never show it
My mummy's dead.
He always quivers a little, rapidly darts his eyes back and forth and waves his arms when he gets that mad. I was taken aback. I’d seen him blow off steam before, but never directly into my face like that. It was actually sort of comical. I restrained myself because it would only have made him madder, but I almost laughed—at least until I formed an image in my mind of the threatened events occurring. I didn’t know how to respond. We had to at least try the boss’s suggestion, and I needed his help, so I had to diffuse the situation some how. I finally just said, “My mother’s dead.”
He quickly snapped, “Then, I’ll send it home to you’re wife.”
When I responded, “Don’t do her any big favors,” he shook his head, threw down his gloves and walked away.
I’d exaggerated a little. The facts were, my wife probably wouldn’t think he’d done her a favor—until the double indemnity insurance check came for me being killed at work, anyway—but, my mother really is dead.
My mom died many years ago. She didn’t live very long (66), and the last few years of her life were not what one could have called her “golden years.” She died pathetically in a nursing home. Her ‘emotional problems’ and the lifetime of prescription drug use to try to control it, finally caught up with her. When I was called in for consultation at the psych department in the hospital, I was given the choice of approving shock treatment or moving her out and into a nursing home.
I was looking into her red, troubled eyes as the options were discussed. She glared at me and reminded me that many times, from the time I was a youngster, I’d promise that I would never put her in a nursing home. Instead, then, I should approve electro-shock treatments? I had to break that promise. There was anger and venom in her eyes and a quiver in her voice when she uttered hurtful things in response.
Her entire savings was consumed by the expenses; the room and board, the medications. The smell and the pathos of the nursing home were depressing and led me to visit less and less frequently. She became even more of a shell of the woman I’d known, as time went by. When the money was gone, they put a lien on the house and I had to apply for public assistance. Shortly after that, she died.
The doctor, a neighbor and friend as well, called me at work to tell me my mother had died. He said that, very near the end, she’d looked up into his eyes and gave him that familiar look. He insinuated it was compassionate, but I knew the look he meant; the one inspired by her ‘emotional problems,’ the angry and hateful look she’d so often given to me. Then, he said, she closed her eyes, went to sleep, and, in a few minutes, was gone.
With my boss on vacation, I was the only one who could do the daily laboratory tests at the wastewater treatment plant. My wife and my adopted-brother, who’d flown in from Florida, helped with all the arrangements. I had to go into work each morning, for at least half a day, to do the lab work. We just skipped the tests on the day of the out of town funeral. The EPA never fined us.
We followed my mother's wishes and gave her the cheapest casket and service they could provide. Besides, there was no money left by then. She’d long since let her life insurance policy lapse. We buried her in the family plot beside my father and their three children who’d died at birth.
I was a little sad that it all seemed so business-like, so ritualistic and routine. When my dad died—the first of the ‘grandparents’ to go--it was a tragic, emotional event. This time it was more of an inconvenience than anything else; the lawyers, the estate tax assessor, the appraiser and the accountant. Soon, though, it was over and forgotten. We had plenty of experience by then. We merely waited for my mother-in-law, the last of that generation, to go. It didn’t scare us anymore. We knew exactly what to do.
I was sitting in the recliner chair in the living room watching the baseball game the other evening. My wife was lying on the sofa when her cell phone rang. I sometimes get ESP messages and ‘know’ who it is on the telephone when it rings. This time I drew a blank. I had no 'hint,' but speculated that it might be my youngest daughter—I’d be going out to California to see her and my granddaughter in a month or so, and I knew she needed my airline information. I also thought it might be my son. He said he was going to invite us down to his place for dinner, but we hadn’t heard from him. I even thought it might be my other daughter. Her birthday was coming up, and she hadn’t called in a while.
I was way off. It was my wife’s employer (she does home care for a couple of elderly women—both are mothers and grandmothers. They live with their aging children). I lost track of the ballgame as my mind instinctively tried to figure out what was going on from only one side of the conversation.
“Oh, hi…No, that’s okay…Sure…No, nothing as far as I know…Well, my husband always says, ‘You’re not my mother,’ so, no, we’re probably not doing anything…Yeah, sure…Okay, thanks…Bye.”
“What was that all about?” I gave up guessing and asked.
“They want me to work Mothers’ Day weekend at Pearl’s," my wife said. "They’re going away, so I’ll have to stay overnight. I told her we didn’t have anything planned, so it was no problem.”
“Oh, okay.” I said, but thought for a second and added: “They’re leaving their mother home alone with you and going away for Mother’s Day?”
“They’re going down to Maryland see their daughter,” she said.
I got thinking about my kids and their mother. Then, I got thinking about my own, dead mother. I often do that around Mothers’ Day, and I usually get sad. I mostly think about those last few years. I mostly think about the bad things I said or did to her over the years, and feel sorry about it. I think about the things she went through in her life that gave her the ‘emotional problems.’ I seldom think about the good times, the wonderful life of a mother and child, even when I try. I don’t know why. Maybe I just take it for granted; that I had a mom and a dad, and they’re dead now; that I have kids and a family, just like everybody else. And, just like everybody else’s, my own kids’ mom and dad will be dead soon, too.
As my kids’ mother left the room I said, “On Mother’s’ Day weekend, you have to run the dogs on Friday and Monday, since I have to do it both the days you’re gone.”
“Well, then,” she called in from the kitchen, “Don’t forget it’s your turn to mow. And, don’t forget—again—to trim that forsythia bush, like you said you would.”
“Yes, Mother,” I moaned.
This Article has been viewed 825 times. (Not updated in real-time.)Top-level comments on this article: (6 total)
» left by Kenn Richter 1 year 14 days ago.
Very timely. Your mom made the best Christmas cookies. My mother is 85 tommorow and I am lucky to have her around. She's in good health too. Thanks for the story.Yep, good cookies. Thanks for remembering. Live speeds by, doesn't it?
And I am 66.... yikes....so thankful Mick and I are still climbing mountains - literally - great story, Jack! I think every wife needs to be a bit mother also... and every hubby just a little bit daddy to the woman he married. Comes with the territory, eh?Thanks, friend. at 59, and having had a heat attack I'm starting to worry too, my dad was 63.
Delicious story, Jack. The kind of tender spot happened similar to humans and so "emotionally" stressful as can be.
We are not alone.thanks hilda, for reading and commenting
Nice article but it gave me bad feeling. my Mother is sitting besides me while I am writing this comment. she don't know English language and I am talking with her and write my comment. She says you must read more books about treatment with your wife, especially religious books on this issue. I think it is not fair if she loves me more than I love her. I wish I never fall to express my love and do my duties toward her. she got more critical right now, she says have you ever read the books which you buy?I don't understand what you're saying. It was my mother who received treatment. If I buy a book, I read it. Are we experiencing a cultural misunderstanding here? Thanks for reading my material, and commenting.
This essay was meant to give people a bad feeling and to purge some guilt the author holds.It was a comment that I explained my situation while writing my comment in real time as well. I think as I write while I take many things for granted, I don't reflect many things on that subject that it make understanding my writing hard. It is something that Language skills cannot help :)
The end of life for many, especially women who have recently gone through the change of life, is difficult, confusing, and dementia is real..it comes early for those who have suffered emotionally "for whatever reasons". Anger, denial, and finally acceptance (as with the death of a loved one), or learning of a terminal illness seem so odd and cold, but are just a fact of facing a reality no one wants, but knows is inevitable.
The fact you can write so honestly about it shows you have given this a lot of thought, and have come to terms with the fact that 'life is unfair' in some area of everyone's life. I believe you have brought a reality to light, it will be hard for some to hear. Until one faces those situations it is not understood.
No advice here, just thank you for sharing something that hurt you, and is a reminder yearly via Mothers Day, but you have nothing to be feel bad about. Occasionally we have to do what is best for someone, and that may mean breaking a promise.
Blessings to you this week, and peace from God.
wow, what a nice comment. thanks
Quite a story. Full of your honesty and forthrightness. You have great heart too.Thanks for reading and commenting.